Live-Read-Blog: The Other Lands – Book One, The Grey Slopes

I’m reading David Anthony Durham’s The Other Lands.

Currently I’ve finished The Gray Slopes and will continue with On Love and Dragons in a second updating post.

As I read (which’ll take a few days) I’ll be making notes and updating this the next post.

Why? Because I love the world of Acacia: the breadth and depth of its peoples, even rendered unto just one book, much less two, is unlike just about everything else out there in epic fantasy.

Also, I’ve decided to make updating these posts a secondary activity whilst reading.

There will be spoilers!
You have been warned.

The Story So Far

Wow, this is unusual and very well done. Thank the gods for texts that don’t attempt to ramrod hundreds of pages of backstory into the actual story—but still provide it in an offset. And this hasn’t been merely dashed off or a bullet list or any such loveless combination—this is well-told storytelling even though it’s “just” a “where we are.”

Not necessary for reading if you’ve just recently finished the first book, Acacia: The War with the Mein, but if it’s been a while, this little section touches every important point and in a great way.

Prologue

The great thing about Kindles is that you can redownload and search individual books, and, for instance, name-check Ravi and Mór, who definitely don’t show up in The War with the Mein.

But it looks like we’ll get more information on what they do with all the children. Twins? Death-eating spirits? Auldek?

And thence we head right into the first book of The Other Lands, The Gray Slopes.

Book One: The Gray Slopes

Chapter One

I really love fierce Mena. Her story thread back in The War with the Mein was one of my favorites. Not everybody gets to be an incarnation of vengeance when they grow up. Melio and Kelis are two of my favorite (still surviving…) secondary characters. I miss Aliver, but don’t we all…

Corinn apparently continues to be mysterious and cold. I vaguely remember the deal she made with the Numrek from last book. And I’m glad that chapter two is serving her right up; of the children, she’s become the most interesting to me (if not beloved).

Ah Cersei, if only you were principled and smart.

Chapter Two

Corinn is a delight to read, in terms of tension, conflict, and a calculated balance. 9 years have passed and her aspects of cold politician and warm mother come out here. She’s a much nuanced character.

I wonder if her choice in secretary was all that wise.

New name: Neen from the League.

Poor Dariel. His islands being used for quite nefarious purpose.

Also: magic!

Also: royal succession is going to be a mess. I’m a little bit afraid of what Corinn is going to do with her siblings in regard to that.

Chapter Three

Dariel! I think I may start to like him better this book. Somehow he reminds me of Wimsey but I think that’s just me.

Thinking about the former children, all split up still (or rather, about to be all split up again).

Poor Dariel. Corinn as a sister and queen is quite concerning. Also, considering what happened after Aliver died, I’m not sure that sending Dariel to secure the mist trade with the Lothan Aklun and the Auldek is a good idea (as far as Corinn is concerned).

Chapter Four

Barad, voice of the quiet and steady rebellion against “my (Akaran) way or the high way.” I wonder what horrible thing is going to happen to him.

Chapter Five

I wonder if there’s a naughty rhyme about Rialus’ bed chamber. Also, nice to see Calrach again! And of course he has a son.

“You are not so much a rat anymore. More of a weasel now.” (Calrach to Rialus)

I hope Neen gets his clock cleaned. And I never considered Rialus’ self-preservation super-senses. Corinn again.

Hey. What ever happened to General Leeka Alain?

Chapter Six

Ecological and economical chaos aren’t usually what one thinks of when magic wreaks havoc in the world; I like that touch/theme (it’s been present throughout, even back in The War with the Mein). Also I like that Talay isn’t simply just Talay (but also has, for instance, Halaly, a different culture, in it). Not a paint-by-numbers world.

“Heroes always die young,” poor Oubadal.

Thinking about the previous chapter and the Other Lands, which are not at all other to the Numrek.

Chapter Seven

Dariel really reminds me of Wimsey now, but I think it’s more the youthful attitude combined with feeling out of place at court.

Chapter Eight

And Corinn has issues. I really love that.

Watching what the royal siblings have been saying about each other to other people is quite revealing, as much for the speaker as for the spoken-of.

Chapter Nine

I was quite afraid that dreams of Aliver meant Kelis was going to bite it this chapter. (He may still do so, of course.) Whew (for now). And Kelis backstory! And Kelis heading off to start a plot thread of his own! Yay!

Chapter Ten

In Lone Wolf and Cub about two-thirds of the way through that epic ((One of the most realistically drawn and historical-ish manga of all time, and epic of vengeance that at the same time is not merely reduced to a story of vengeance.)) a dude named Abe Kai showed up.

I hate Neen in quite a similar manner. Hopefully he’ll have a serious comeuppance.

Chapter Eleven

Man, Barad doesn’t know what the royal siblings went through, does he? Also, what happens after the revolution is no concern of his? Oy. Still, he thinks it’s for the best or he’s in denial about the resulting chaos afterwards. On the other hand, maybe that is for the best. Shades of gray, I like.

King Grae (Aushenia) really doesn’t grasp the irony of… almost every thing he’s said this chapter.

Also: man, they don’t know Corinn’s paranoia and determination, do they. Unless they’ve got Rhrenna in their pocket. Must remember Aliver with regards to the life and death of main characters, though.

Things are starting to move much faster now (they were fast, not boring, before).

Chapter Twelve

Oy vey. Before we even see them! The Lothan Aklun are gone, and boy, is Dariel in trouble. Things moving at breakneck speed now.

I like the intelligence of the main power players here. No simpleton Abe Kai here. Excellent.

Chapter Thirteen

The Leaue toppled the Lothan Aklun in an act that was either too easy or flawless. Makes one extremely concerned now for Corinn and Mena. Dariel very much in the soup.

Chapter Fourteen

Nice to see more of Talay. Corinn performs serious magic in Bocoum, though I worry that the ecological change, as well-intended as it can be from a paranoid magician-ruler, will not end well. But I don’t know at this point.

Chapter Fifteen

Dear Mena: Next time when people say that a silly-looking foulthing eating fruit is actually a winged voracious carnivore, maybe you should believe them.

Chapter Sixteen

!!!!

Chapter Seventeen

Sire Neen: blah blah posturing blah blah asking for it blah blah

Dariel: *gagged silence*

Rialus: bwuh?

Chapter Eighteen

Satisfaction! And Neen went to a very sticky end indeed, after committing quite the diplomatic fuck-up.

Screwing around with the Numrek or Auldek seems a fairly bad idea. As is immediately removing an entire civilization that was buffering you from them. And assuming that the Numrek coming back with you won’t play a surprising role in state affairs.

[to be continued in the next post]

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6 thoughts on “Live-Read-Blog: The Other Lands – Book One, The Grey Slopes

  1. I’m psyched to find another person who loves David Anthony Durham! I read Acacia last year and LOVED it. Was psyched to know a new book was coming out this year. I only just finished reading the second book, and found it every bit as good as the first one. He is such a wonderful unique author in the fantasy genre — he actually brings a multicultural awareness & perspective to his writing, which seems so unique and which I love. He’s just so great at creating real characters that I can relate to and spinning amazing stories in a believable fantasy world. Love it, and I was going through withdrawals when I came online hoping to find other people who liked those books as much as me. So, thanks!

  2. Thanks for the tip, Arachne! It’s great in today’s day & age to be able to almost-immediately visit the author’s website and learn more about him. When I first read Acacia, I enjoyed it so much that I looked up DAD’s other books. But somehow I didn’t see his blog/website at the time.

    Speaking of other books — I thoroughly enjoyed his historical fiction book about the life of Hannibal. I’d recommend it, although it took me a bit longer to become fully engaged in it.

    So, would you mind if I ask you a question about Kindle? Do you take Kindle everywhere you go? ie. to places one typically might bring a book, such as to a doctor’s office, on a bus, or into bed? I’ve had a fairly easy time resisting Kindle, in part because I have doubts about whether I’d bring this new electronic toy with me to places I’d normally bring a book. Plus I feel like I already spend enough time staring into electronic devices, like monitors, televisions, laptops, etc. But I’d like to get over my Kindle biases, I would I would!

  3. Hello Glenn,

    I don’t mind Kindle questions. :) I take my Kindle everywhere with me. I actually bought what would be termed a “man bag” and a zippered M-Edge cover for it. Ever since I’ve had it, I’m rarely more than a few feet away from it. Before my Kindle, I had always thought that, “Library in your hand,” was an exaggeration; but it is exactly true. It’s even more true for an e-Ink reader like the Kindle, because the screen is like paper and can be read in sunlight, unlike LCD displays—even the little overly bright screen of my iPhone makes my eyes ache after an hour or so, but not my Kindle. (It’s weirder, actually—if I have an LCD-screen headache, I usually get rid of it by reading on my Kindle. Not sure how that works, or if it works that way for other people, but there it is.)

    The Kindle’s pretty awesome because you can buy so many new books on it instantly, without having to hook it up to a computer. Many a ferry ride of mine involved buying a book after reading a new sample downloaded mid-voyage from the Kindle store.

    Hmmm. Actually, I don’t read my Kindle while in the bathtub. But I wouldn’t have read my hardcovers in the bathtub, either, so that’s okay with me.

  4. Thanks for the Kindle info! My walls around it may just have dropped a bit. Maybe I’ll even break down and get one sometime. It’s really good to know that it’s readable in sunlight.

    I’m experiencing Other Lands withdrawals lately. Now that I’ve read that book, and the latest Robert Jordan – Brandon Sanderson book The Gathering Storm, I haven’t figured out which reading direction to go next yet.

    Have you read Jordan’s Wheel of Time series?

  5. You’re welcome, Glenn.

    I’ve never read the Wheel of Time, but I want to start. :) They’re having marvelous WoT re-read/analysis at Tor.com, which you may be interested in! There are quite a few fans there :D

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